Glancing around my theology class, I was struck by the mix of cultures present in the room. Outside of the fact that I am from the USA, students hail from places like East Asia, India, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar (Burma), Suriname, and Singapore.
There is more significance to this list than might be appreciated at first glance.
Not only do the USA and Japan have a contentious past, Asian nations also have a long and bitter history of conflict and war with each other. During World War II, for example, the Japanese not only bombed pearl harbor, they conquered the Philippines, Korea, as well as much of China and Southeast Asia. As they advanced, they brutally killed and imprisoned many of the inhabitants. Those allowed to live were sometimes raped, beaten, and treated like slaves and animals.
I mention this not to shame the Japanese. All sides committed great atrocities against one another. And Americans should not forget the countless innocent civilians indiscriminately killed in Japan when atomic warheads were dropped on two of their major cities. I only share these examples to illustrate how deep the hatred and animosities still run between these countries up until the present. For many, the pain and anger are still very fresh and very personal.
I also mention this to show the transforming power of the gospel. Here at our seminary, these students are all sitting together peacefully, worshiping God, loving each other, praying, learning, and sharing together as devoted brothers and sisters in Christ. In view of human history, only God could orchestrate this kind of unlikely fellowship of saints.
This is the radically profound power of the gospel. It takes all the wrongs and atrocities of the past, all the shame, anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, and searing loss, and brings it to the cross. Here in Christ alone, the nations of the world find genuine healing and permanent reconciliation with God and one another. It’s one more reason I am not ashamed of the gospel because it truly is the reconciling power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, whether they were previously fast friends or even mortal enemies.